June/July 2010 Newsletter


Setting Up for Success: Building a Solid Foundation

Wouldn’t it be nice if your dog sat and stayed, without hesitation or confusion, while you were in the waiting room at the vet office?  How about if they waited to jump out of the car until you released them, or greeted visitors at the door with a quick sniff instead of jumping all over them?  Often, we want to build solid behaviors with our dogs but have trouble getting started or setting realistic goals.  This is where Happy Dog Institute comes to the rescue!

In order to ensure we develop clear and reliable behaviors, we have to lay a foundation first.  We cannot expect our dog to perform a series of complex or different behaviors before they have learned each behavior individually.

Think of it as building a house.   A house starts with a foundation, and everything else builds on it.  You can’t build a frame without a foundation, and you can’t build a roof or walls without a frame.  Similarly, building a reliable sequence of behaviors requires that the behaviors be broken down first.  We can build more complex behaviors only after we have built a solid foundation of simpler behaviors.

Let’s put this in a real-life, real-dog context: say you have an over-excited, 70 pound dog who loves to greet visitors by jumping on them, possibly chewing on their hands, and then won’t leave them alone for the duration of their stay.   In conjunction with some basic management strategies, we want to replace this over-excited jumping, chewing and excited behavior with a more streamlined “job” for the dog.  We want the dog to simply “Go say hi” to the visitor and then go settle on their bed.  They will still be excited, but giving them a job helps them learn to display more desirable behavior – especially for your guests!

First, we need to train the dog to target to a person’s hand for the “Go say hi”.  We also need a “Go lay down” behavior.  Then, we need to teach them to “Go Say Hi” then “Go lay down” in the context of visitors.  If we don’t first lay the groundwork for this series of actions, our training would be frustrating – for both us and the dog – and ultimately unsuccessful.

Happy Dog Institute teaches public classes and offers private, customized training plans centered around building a solid, reliable foundation – much like the foundation and frame of a sturdy house.  Our curriculum builds on these foundation behaviors so we can expect a more complex performance, and apply them in real-life settings.

We offer classes and private training packages for dogs of all ages and clients of all skill levels.  Check out our website at http://www.happydoginstitute.com for more information, and drop us a line!  Phone: 360.915.7130, email: info@happydoginstitute.com

“Hardly any animal can look as deeply disappointed as a dog to whom one says ‘no'” – Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

Classes – Happy Dog Institute teaches public classes at Fido’s Farm.  We offer basic obedience and manners classes through our “Fun Foundation” track to promote socialization and success.  We also offer specialized classes for certain behaviors such as Recall and Loose Leash Walking.  We also offer Foundation Agility classes and a “Grouchy Dog” class for dogs with aggression or reactivity.
Private Training – with Private Training, you’ll get a customized training plan designed just for you and your dog that fits your lifestyle and needs.
Day Training – we’ll train your dog for you!  Whether you need help with behavior issues or basic obedience, we’re here to help.  This service is perfect if you have a busy schedule and simply don’t have the time to establish behaviors you are looking for in your dog or solve those tricky problems.
Behavior Consulting – does your dog destroy the house when you’re away from home?  Does he bark at the neighbors or passers by?  Is she aggressive or reactive towards other dogs or people?  If so, behavior consulting is just what you need.  With an initial consult with you, we’ll assess the issue and develop a training plan to help ease unwanted behaviors and leave you feeling much more relaxed.
Day Visits – physical exercise largely decreases boredom-related behavior issues, including barking and chewing.  Overall, it creates a happier dog If you’re having trouble fitting in regular walks for your dog, or need some help training loose leash walking and/or heeling, we’re here to help!


This is a great product that keeps your pup occupied – depending on how you prepare it – for a long time.  There are KONGs of all sizes, KONGs designed for puppies, KONGs for dogs who chew – you name it!  You can get a KONG from us, or from your local pet store like MudBay.  You can stuff them with peanut butter and freeze them.  Check out this recipe from the KONG Company:

Frozen Jerky Pops:
-Peanut butter
-Jerky Strips · Water
-Appropriate KONG toy

Smear a small amount of peanut butter over small hole in your KONG toy. Fill with cool water and add a pinch of bouillon. Place a Jerky Stick inside KONG toy and freeze. This can also be put (once frozen) in a children’s size swimming pool for a fun day of fishing for your pet.
– by Terry Ryan

Capturing behavior that your dog is doing right – rather than saying “NO!” – is going to produce more reliable, effective results.

Go to happydoginstitute.com for more details
-We’re now writing for Pet Connection Magazine!  Pick up a copy for yourself and take advantage of the great advice and local services offered.

-We’ll be adding a new class schedule to our website shortly.  Check out our classes  – or send the link to a friend – for details: http://www.happydoginstitute.com/classes

-2nd Annual Paws for the Cause event at Hawks Prairie Veterinary Hospital is July 11th from 11-3.  Come by and say hi!  For more info: http://www.happydoginstitute.com/news